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Freedom Blossoms in the Desert
by Doug Casey
Dubai is, and will remain, the most successful city in world history because it is, in most ways, the freest. FINALLY, Dubai has made news! And now everyone will know about this amazing place. In recent years the governments of the UAE have sought to diversify its sources of income and lessen its dependence on finite oil reserves. One result of these efforts is a steadily developing tourism industry, centered on coastal, desert and sporting resorts and infrastructure.
The Dubai economy is total capitalism, peace, and freedom. And they don't hate democracy or Western culture or Western Civilization or America. Dubai is probably the freest place on earth. Dubai was unique in the Middle East. They didn't have as much oil as most of their neighboring countries, but they were smart. They planned for the future. They knew they could be successful if they opened up their society and their economy. There are free-trade zones and there are low taxes. They have free markets, they respect capitalism, they don't shun the West -- they welcome the West.
Custom built islands, the world's only 7-star hotel, and some of the best restaurants and theme parks. Soon they will finish the world's tallest building, abutting what will be the world's largest shopping center.
The national airline, Emirates, is probably the best in the world. The country is 100% desert yet they built a huge area adding extra beachfront shoreline, plus thousands of homes, and about 40 new luxury hotels. It's one of the world's greatest engineering projects. It's called "The Palm." A second Palm is under construction, and a third -- which will be about the size of Paris -- is planned. The scale of all this is mind-boggling.
Most spectacular of all is The World, a complex of 300 artificial islands to be built 5 km out in the gulf, resembling a map of the world. The islands range from about two to ten acres apiece, and they're all pre-sold, the cheapest at $23 million. You buy your island, and you can do whatever you wish on it or with it.
But what's more important is that as leaders of other countries -- especially small, poor ones -- visit the place, they will increasingly see that they have no alternative but to emulate it. Dubai has truly let the cat out of the bag. There's no doubt in my mind that in the next ten years, Dubai look-a-likes will spring up around the world like variations on a theme. For most countries, it's either imitate Dubai, or become a petting zoo for those who do.
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posted by Hal 9:30 PM
Dubai company agrees to delay US ports takeover (Feb. 23, 06): Under the offer coordinated with the White House, Dubai Ports World said it will agree not to exercise control or influence the management over US ports ... A top White House aide has said an Arab company's controversial takeover of operations at six major US ports could be delayed, as US lawmakers continued to question the transaction.
Much is being made about the security of the ports, but this sale to Dubai Ports World is not about security or about port ownership. It's about operations in the ports. The announcement of DP World's bid for P&O was made back in November 2005, and the news was widely reported in the press and international financial trade publications. No one squawked then.
Nothing to do with security will change with this transaction. The role of the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other Federal agencies, will remain the same, regardless of whether the ports are operated by the London-Based Peninsular And Oriental (P&O) Steam Navigation Company or by Dubai Ports World. No difference.
The transaction is not about port security or even port ownership, but only about operations in the ports. DP World will not manage port security, nor will it own any ports. DP World would take on the functions now performed by the British firm P&O -- basically the off- and on-loading of cargo. Employees will still have to be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. No private companies are currently allowed to manage any U.S. port. Rather, private companies such as P&O and DP World simply manage and operate individual terminals within the ports.
Why Dubai is good for US business
Dubai Ports World is exactly the kind of bridge the US needs to the Muslim world.
By Mansoor Ijaz
Dubai is a glamorous showcase for global capitalism in the unlikeliest of places. And there is a fundamental commitment to fighting terrorism there that most Americans don't know about.
In the battle of hearts and minds that defines America's struggle to combat terrorism, the emotional eruption from US politicians in the past week over the proposed takeover of six key American ports by a Dubai company is a big step backward for US national security. It is a uniquely un-American reaction that assumes the worst of an important Arab ally, pronounces its guilt, and seeks to paint its companies as enemies without one shred of evidence.
Dubai's business environment is the Middle East's only meritocracy. Young men and women compete openly with ideas and ambitions to make their nation a model example for Muslim societies besieged by high unemployment, low literacy rates, bad trade policies, and authoritarian political structures. They run businesses transparently, with integrity and with an increasingly democratic and accountable corporate culture.
Known for innovative investing and one-of-a-kind megaprojects, Dubai should not be antagonized. Rather it should be encouraged, for example, to fund and deploy a revolutionary array of security initiatives at the US ports, such as neutron pulse scanners and smart chips for tracking containers. US technology already exists in prototype form to scan containers without opening them or materially affecting port management economics. The Department of Homeland Security should find a common investment and implementation basis with Dubai Ports World for the rapid development of such technologies.
True, the United Arab Emirates -- where Dubai stands out as a modern city-state on par with Singapore and Monaco -- was home to the man, Marwan al Shehhi, who piloted United Airlines Flight 175 into the second World Trade Center tower. But our key frontline ally in fighting terror today, Pakistan, was home to a lot worse. True, bad banking went on in the UAE, some of which funneled money to the 9/11 hijackers, but money laundering is not unique to Arab countries. True, Dubai was the distribution hub of rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's nuclear black market. But truer still is the cooperation Dubai's intelligence officials gave the US in helping unravel Dr. Khan's network.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, many nations have changed course in important ways to balance out such negative liabilities as the UAE carried in the pre-9/11 world.
In December 2004, Dubai was the first Middle East government to accept the US Container Security Initiative as policy to screen all containers for security hazards before heading to America. In May 2005, Dubai signed an agreement with the US Department of Energy to prevent nuclear materials from passing through its ports. It also installed radiation-detecting equipment -- evidence of a commitment to invest in technology. In October 2005, the UAE Central Bank directed banks and financial institutions in the country to tighten their internal systems and controls in their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
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posted by Hal 9:14 PM
Newly created secret agency assessed ports deal
(David Morgan, Reuters, February 23, 2006)
A deal that allows an Arab-owned company in Dubai to manage six major U.S. ports was scrutinized for security risks by an obscure intelligence agency that has existed for only four months, American officials said on Wednesday. . . . The Intelligence Community Acquisition Risk Centre, or CARC, overseen by the office of intelligence chief John Negroponte, was asked by the government committee that vets foreign investments in the United States to look into the ports deal soon after it came to its attention in early November. . . . The White House sought to stem criticism on Wednesday by saying the port takeover had been reviewed by intelligence agencies, including counterterrorism experts. "The intelligence community did assessments to make sure that there was no national security threat," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters. . . . But intelligence officials said CARC, which has little to do with counterterrorism activities, was formed just last October as the agency mandated to assess security risks posed by companies that do business with the intelligence community. . . . Only a small part of the center's resources are devoted to vetting commercial deals, officials said. . . . CARC's first director, William Dawson, was appointed in January, more than a month after the centre had been asked to begin work on the Dubai Ports World acquisition. . . . Dawson had been a senior information technology official for the intelligence community prior to his appointment. . . . Intelligence officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about CARC, said many of the center's functions were transferred to Negroponte's office from the CIA in 2005 as a result of congressionally mandated intelligence reforms.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:38 AM
The Crimes of the U.S.A.
[Excerpts from Harold Pinter's lecture at his award of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature . . . the link above will take you to the full text of this important lecture]
Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified. . . . But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States' actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked. . . . Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer. . . . I spoke earlier about 'a tapestry of lies' which surrounds us. President Reagan commonly described Nicaragua as a 'totalitarian dungeon'. This was taken generally by the media, and certainly by the British government, as accurate and fair comment. But there was in fact no record of death squads under the Sandinista government. There was no record of torture. There was no record of systematic or official military brutality. No priests were ever murdered in Nicaragua. There were in fact three priests in the government, two Jesuits and a Maryknoll missionary. The totalitarian dungeons were actually next door, in El Salvador and Guatemala. The United States had brought down the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954 and it is estimated that over 200,000 people had been victims of successive military dictatorships. . . . Six of the most distinguished Jesuits in the world were viciously murdered at the Central American University in San Salvador in 1989 by a battalion of the Alcatl regiment trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA. That extremely brave man Archbishop Romero was assassinated while saying mass. It is estimated that 75,000 people died. Why were they killed? They were killed because they believed a better life was possible and should be achieved. That belief immediately qualified them as communists. They died because they dared to question the status quo, the endless plateau of poverty, disease, degradation and oppression, which had been their birthright. . . . The United States finally brought down the Sandinista government. It took some years and considerable resistance but relentless economic persecution and 30,000 dead finally undermined the spirit of the Nicaraguan people. They were exhausted and poverty stricken once again. The casinos moved back into the country. Free health and free education were over. Big business returned with a vengeance. 'Democracy' had prevailed. . . . The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven. . . . Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it. . . . But this 'policy' was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened. . . . The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis. . . . The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. . . . The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading – as a last resort – all other justifications having failed to justify themselves – as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people. . . . We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'. . . . How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. . . . Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don't exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. 'We don't do body counts,' said the American general Tommy Franks. . . . I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as 'full spectrum dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs. 'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources. . . . The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don't quite know how they got there but they are there all right. . . . The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning. . . . Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? . . . We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it. . . . I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory. . . . If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us – the dignity of man.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:11 PM
U.S. workers study Venezuela's revolution
International delegations visiting Venezuela for the Third Gathering in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution on April 13-17 had a chance to see firsthand how the working people are participating in the transformation of this country. . . . The gathering this year had exceptional significance. The revolution is at a crucial juncture. It has tremendously increased its base of support, having been ratified by nine election processes. It has survived innumerable destabilization campaigns directed by the U.S. government, both inside the country and worldwide through a hostile media campaign. . . . The time has come when the advancement of the process has led to a direct confrontation with the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and with the property relations that support its enormous privileges. . . . Contradictions are so sharp that only two roads are possible: go back or go forward. The dynamism of the revolution does not allow for anything to stand still. . . . Since they achieved their goal of freeing Chavez, the masses have learned much in a short time. Their political awareness has developed as they tasted the flavor of empowerment. How can they go back? . . . The road forward has already been defined by Chávez himself: the Bolivarian Revolution will take the glorious road of socialism. He first announced it in January in a press conference during the World Social Forum in Brazil, and has repeated it many times since. . . . The developments mentioned were many. They include activating a 200,000-strong Military Reserve of both women and men, of all ages, to defend the country. This will be increased to 2 million in the coming months. Venezuela is keenly aware of being a Pentagon target and thus is preparing the reserve army in every corner of the country-from the Apure region where reservists patrol on horseback to Indigenous people in the Amazon jungle. As Chavez said, "The revolution is advancing, and as it advances, the threats increase." . . . Chavez spoke at length on the oil question. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, he said, and they are the first interest of the U.S. The oil today is being managed by the revolution for the benefit and advantage of the people and not for the profit of U.S. oil companies, as it used to be during previous governments. Taxes are finally being imposed and enforced on foreign companies. Stealing of oil and its derivatives will no longer be permitted in Venezuela. . . . Companies used to pay a ludicrous amount of rent for the land they occupied—just pennies per year per acre. The royalties on oil ran as low as 1 percent on heavy crude. That has been raised to 16 percent, and under a new law the royalty on regular crude is raised to 30 percent and could be increased further. . . . Thorough investigation by the Bolivarian government discovered that the foreign companies were not paying rent for their land. Now this robbery will stop. . . . Chavez also mentioned trade relations with other countries. Venezuela will supply nearby Argentina with oil for the first time in 100 years. It will exchange 8 million barrels of fuel oil for pregnant cows, nuclear medical equipment for cancer treatment and agricultural machinery. This avoids having to use so-called hard currencies. . . . "Similar treaties have been established with Cuba, Jamaica, Uruguay, Paraguay and many other countries of the Caribbean and Central America," said Chavez. "Now we have a strategic agreement with China, to supply oil, and with India". . . . He explained that Venezuela, together with Brazil, "will form Petroamerica, a grouping of oil and oil-related companies; and soon Petrocaribe will be born in the Caribbean." . . . Needless to say, the U.S. CIA is operating 24 hours a day to break the revolution. However, the political will of the masses is progressing in spite of this. . . . Repeatedly, conference participants stressed that whatever the model used, the struggle for workers' control in Venezuela should not be limited to the public sector or to a takeover of failed industries abandoned by their former capitalist owners. . . . Speakers received resounding applause when they raised that co-management is not about Venezuelan workers becoming "shareholders who own capital," but about overturning capitalist property relations and replacing them with workers' control over all the industry through socialism. . . . Steve Gillis, president of USWA Local 8751, Boston School Bus Drivers Union, presented T-shirts from the Million Worker March and messages of solidarity to the Venezuelan workers. . . . Gillis denounced Condoleezza Rice's criticism of Chavez as the leader of a "failed revolution." "It is capitalism that is the failed system," Gillis noted, "because it has shown itself incapable of providing for the basic needs of working and poor people."
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posted by Lorenzo 9:42 AM